Laminated bathroom wall panels have been around for years and were always a popular choice in commercial settings.
They are basically a method of getting a laminate surface onto your wall. You could stick a sheet of laminate directly to a bathroom wall but being a very thin sheet they would require an extremely flat surface in order to have any strength once fitted.
To make life easier manufacturers bonded the laminate sheet to a stiff MDF or plywood core. This gave the panel structural rigidity and was more forgiving when it came to installation.
A second sheet of laminate is bonded to the reverse side to stabilise the panel and prevent it from warping. There are two versions of this panel. One version of these panels is available with a tongue and grooved edge enabling them to be joined together to cover larger walls without the need for an obtrusive joining strip. The second has a square edge, which are fine if one sheet covers the area you need. If not a metal joining strip is used which each panel slots into.
A recent development of the laminated panel involves utilising a waterproof foam core rather than a wood based core. This results in a lighter panel that is slightly flexible making manoeuvring the panel into restricted areas a little easier. Foam core panels are not available with a tongue and groove edge so they need to be joined with a trim.
Both foam core and wooden core panel are very large so they are more tricky to fit than the smaller PVC panels. If you are installing a complete new cubicle they are perfect but if you are trying to fit them into an existing unit then smaller PVC panels are the better choice.
So which are the best – laminate or PVC panels? The following section will look at the main features and compare them.
Which Are Best – Laminated Panels or PVC Panels?
The answer depends on the application.
In commercial properties the laminated bathroom wall panels are more durable. The surface is much harder and is less susceptible to damage. But in most bathrooms this is not really an issue.
In domestic situations PVC panels are a perfect choice. They are cheap, easy to install and last for years.
If you are refurbishing a shower without removing the cubicle then the smaller, PVC panels are a whole lot easier to manoeuvre in to place.
Laminate wall panels expand and contract a lot more than PVC panels so expansion gaps need to be included at the installation stage to avoid problems. With PVC panels this problem is non-existent.